East Oregon’s wireless broadband network: a successful rural initiative

A new wireless broadband network that covers 600 square miles (1,554 square kilometers) of eastern Oregon is the envy of Portland’s community wireless activists, according to this interesting article from CNBC. A new wireless broadband network that covers 600 square miles (1,554 square kilometers) of eastern Oregon is the envy of Portland’s community wireless activists, according to this interesting article from CNBC.

The network covers Hermiston, Boardman, the surrounding areas of Morrow and Umatilla counties, and part of southeast Washington. It is built by EZ Wireless LLC (Hermiston) and relies on a public-private partnership with the Morrow County Emergency Management department and several municipalities. EZ Wireless has a contract to provide service to Boardman, Hermiston and Umatilla counties. This contract made it possible for EZ Wireless and its parent company, IRZ Consulting, to take the financial risk of building the network. According to EZ Wireless, residents and businesses have been calling them and asking to be connected to the service.

EZ Wireless is one of the many small companies that are busy unwiring rural communities. I have written about FastLine Internet in Vivian, Louisiana and Locustwork UK in Muniwireless.

Municipal governments are beginning to realize that broadband is a utility like electricity and gas, and more will build the networks (wired and wireless) themselves (or through public-private partnerships) because hardware is getting cheaper and easier to install.